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Saviello and Starrett win Fish Friendly ice shacks

“I won the shack? I won the shack!” Sen. Tom Saviello said Monday when he got the call.

Sen. Tom SavielloSen. Saviello (R-Franklin) and Ben Starrett of Topsham, each won a Fish Friendly Ice Shack in a raffle to benefit Maine’s fish. In an odd twist of fate, Starrett’s father, John, was one of the volunteers who built the ice shacks.

“I am very happy,” Ben Starrett said. “And I’m sure Dad will be very happy as well.”

Maine’s Fisheries Improvement Network (FIN), an alliance of forest landowners and managers, federal and state fisheries managers, sponsored the raffle and non-governmental organizations determined to improve Maine’s fisheries. Proceeds will be used to upgrade snowmobile stream crossings to improve fish passage and habitat connectivity. Snowmobile trails can impact stream crossings and fragment habitat just as roads do.

Although Saviello isn’t an ice fisherman, he already has found a home for his ice shack. He donated it to the Wilton Fish and Game Club. “It will be for the kids in the club to use at our fishing derby,” he said.

The ice shacks, whose value is estimated at $2,000 each, can be taken apart for easy transport and then easily reassembled. Raffle tickets sold for $10 each and three for $20.

Ben StarrettBob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, drew the winning tickets at the MSA office in Augusta. FIN members, snowmobile clubs and the staff of Maine’s Off Road Vehicle Unit will determine which snowmobile crossing to upgrade next summer with the $1,720 proceeds from the raffle.

“We’re proud to be a part of FIN and the terrific work they’re doing to improve fish passage in Maine,” Meyers said. “Cooperation between land users like snowmobilers and Maine’s generous landowners is what allows our great recreation traditions to continue.”

Pat Sirois, director of Maine’s SFI Implementation Committee, Kevin McCarthy and John Starrett of Sappi Fine Paper, and Scott Pease of Hancock Lumber, built the ice shacks. Huber Engineered Woods and Plum Creek Timber donated SFI Certified materials.

“There have never been ice shacks whose purpose is more friendly to fish,” Sirois said. “This is a great project not only to raise money but to raise awareness on the stream connectivity issues. This is a win for fish, snowmobilers and fishermen.”

To find out more about FIN, visit www.sfimaine.org.

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